Yes, I eat my excess birds. I feel that this is a fitting end to the good life they have had with me caring for them and treating them very well. They free range every day, and I know what feed and treats are going into them, so am happy about serving this meat to my family. It also tastes delicious!
I skin the birds as I use them in the slow cooker, so this is the quick version as I don’t pluck feathers. You can always watch YouTube videos for close-ups of the cleaning techniques, which are tricky to describe. I have tried to give the general idea below.
- Find a good friend who can help you! It is better to have company, and the time goes much faster! Also, S/he can kill the birds you may be attached to.
- Supplies: flat, sturdy table surface covered by plastic tarp, water hose, sharp poultry scissors and filet knife (the photo shows me with a cleaver—too imprecise!), waste basket with liner bag, ice chest full of ice, latex gloves, work gloves, 5 gallon bucket, bungee, and tree.
- Catch bird.
- My preference is to hang them upside down from tree (I use a bungee cord), as they are calm. Place the 5-gal bucket underneath. I hold the head firmly, and pull out on the neck a bit. Make a clean slit under their “chin” across the throat. Hold head back so blood can drain into the bucket below. They close their eyes calmly and do not appear to suffer. I prefer this to the old "chopping block" method.
- After all blood has drained, cut head off bird off and toss in garbage. (All “extra” parts go into the garbage bag for removal at clean up time.)
- Lay out bird on covered table. Use poultry shears to make center cut which will go up the breast, around the neck (to loosen), and back down to vent
- Use filet knife to continue down and make the cut around the vent, making sure not to nick any "innards" You can feel the pelvic bones which you will need to cut just inside of.
- The tricky part is loosening the innards so that you can bring them all out in one mass. It entails scraping the inside of the bird with your fingers (latex gloves on!) to loosen up everything. Lungs will stick to the inside cavity in a lot of cases. You can remove them after if you couldn’t get them out with the other organs, etc
- Cut off feet
- Basically you can pull the skin (think: from the inside) off the bird by just snipping the attachment points and continuing to pull it off all the way around. This is easiesron the young cockerels than the old hens!
- You can cut the carcass into whatever parts you use. I do breasts, back and legs, and keep the necks for soup.
- Rinse all pieces
- Put into ice bath
- After about 4 hours, I rinse pieces again in the kitchen, and put into crockpot-sized portions in zip-locks for the freezer
Describe 'Processing Your Extra Cockerels and Old Hens for the Slow Cooker' here